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The top 5 true freshman quarterbacks in college football for 2021

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

August 31st, 2021

Sliding directly into a college football starting lineup is difficult for any college freshman, but no position is tougher to take over in your first month of school than quarterback.

While many redshirt freshmen will take snaps for their teams this fall, no true freshmen are expected to be the starting quarterback during opening weekend.

However, these five players have a shot to receive serious reps this season as backups in blowouts, and a few have a chance to take over as the starter eventually.

Here are the top five true freshmen quarterbacks to keep your eye on in 2021.

5. Ty Thompson, Oregon

Thompson is a highly touted quarterback whose playing time will depend on how the guy in front of him on the depth chart performs.

Anthony Brown, who transferred from Boston College ahead of Oregon's 2020 campaign, is the starting quarterback in Eugene, and the Ducks could be a dark-horse national title contender.

Thompson likely will not unseat Brown, but the freshman should see plenty of time in mop-up duty and could be a change of pace if Brown struggles.

Thompson gained more than 11,000 yards of total offense and 120 touchdowns during his high school career, and he is a top 40 recruit. He has a powerful arm, throws a beautiful deep ball, and he should do more than enough to show why he will be Oregon’s starter next season.

4. Quinn Ewers/Kyle McCord, Ohio State

We are going to cheat a bit here, but this is a very unique situation for the Buckeyes.

Redshirt freshman C.J. Stroud has been named the starting quarterback for Ohio State, but the battle ran late into camp.

McCord came out on the short end, but he should see plenty of chances to prove his worth — both in blowouts and if Ohio State struggles with Stroud. McCord enrolled early and put up a solid performance in the spring game, with 184 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns.

Ewers, one of the highest-rated quarterback recruits for 2022, reclassified to the 2021 class and enrolled at Ohio State this summer.

He has impressed in practice and has already secured multiple name, image, and likeness deals. There are many around the program who believe no matter how Stroud or McCord perform, the seat at QB is simply being kept warm for Ewers.

A quarterback controversy is coming in Columbus, which will likely result in one or two quarterback transfers out of the program at the end of the year.

3. J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

The Michigan quarterback battle came down to the wire, as Jim Harbaugh named his starter Monday.

Redshirt sophomore Cade McNamara won the battle, but that was expected, given his knowledge of the offense and experience.

However, McCarthy pushed him in camp and proved worthy of his rank as the second-best pro-style quarterback in the class.

McCarthy needs to add some more weight to his frame to handle some of the hits he will take, but the five-star quarterback has an accurate arm and was a stud at IMG Academy last year. He also enrolled early and has had time to settle into college life, and he has locked up the backup quarterback spot.

With Harbaugh’s seat plenty hot and Michigan’s offensive struggles over the past few years, do not be shocked if McCarthy takes over the starting job before the end of the season.

2. Preston Stone, SMU

Stone nearly became the only starter on this list.

SMU named Tanner Mordecai the starting quarterback Monday, but the Oklahoma transfer was pushed hard by the four-star prospect out of Dallas.

The list of schools that offered Stone were impressive, but he shocked everyone when he stayed home to play for the Mustangs, after setting the Dallas city record for career passing yards.

Head coach Sonny Dykes has shown he is willing to start a true freshman, as he did with former Cal quarterback Jared Goff.

Stone gained more than 4,000 yards of total offense and scored 48 touchdowns as a senior, then enrolled at SMU early, to get a grasp on the offense.

He has impressed everyone around the program and his dual-threat capabilities could see him used in different ways, even if he doesn't start.

Before the season ends, however, it will be “Baby Manziel”, leading the SMU offense on the field.

1. Sam Huard, Washington

The top 15 quarterback recruit is the son of Damon Huard and nephew of Brock Huard, who both started at Washington.

Huard threw for a Washington state record 13,214 passing yards during his high school career, with 153 touchdowns in four years. Many believe he is the best quarterback to join the program in more than a decade, and the fans already want him on the field.

Huard will have to sit behind starter Dylan Morris for now, but he is firmly entrenched as the backup.

Washington’s first game is against Montana, and many expect Huard to see plenty of snaps in the second half. If he performs well, the Huskies' second-week game against Michigan could be a key point in Washington’s season.

Any struggles from Morris will see the cries for Huard get even louder.

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